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Why Niele Ivey can’t wait for the return of Olivia Miles for Notre Dame women’s basketball

IMG_9992by:Tyler Horka05/24/24


It’s been said many times but it cannot be said enough. Notre Dame head coach Niele Ivey tore her ACL twice in her career. She knows exactly what the last year-plus has been like for Fighting Irish superstar guard Olivia Miles.

She also knows exactly what it’s going to be like when Miles takes the floor for an actual game for the first time in 21 months this November. Now that Miles is through the laborious, arduous period of rehab and is inching closer to an actual return to action, it’s time to focus more on what will occur six months from now and less on what transpired 15 months ago.

“She’s hungry,” Ivey told ACC Network. “When you have the game taken away from you, the appreciation of playing again is an intangible thing she has in her heart. She has so much fire in her heart to be back on the court. I’m really excited for everyone to see the work she’s put in.”

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In the meantime, Hannah Hidalgo took the controls of the Notre Dame women’s basketball machine and ran with them. Rather, Hidalgo was the Notre Dame women’s basketball machine. She reached feats even Miles did not when Miles was at on-court command of the program for the better part of two and a half seasons.

Miles was an Associated Press Second Team All-American. Hidalgo made the first team, and she’s one of only five freshmen to ever do it. Miles averaged 14.3 points, 7.3 rebounds, 6.9 assists as a sophomore. Hidalgo averaged 22.6 points, 6.2 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 4.6 steals as a freshman.

The beauty of basketball, though, is that this isn’t a Drew Bledsoe vs. Tom Brady conundrum. Miles and Hidalgo can start on the floor at the same time. Together. And they will. Notre Dame will be a better team because of it, in all likelihood.

There are things Hidalgo does better than Miles. Steal when she needs to. Score when she needs to. Play with unmatched fervent fire. There are things Miles does better than Hidalgo. Controlling tempo. Setting players up on the run and in transition. Playing with poise that only comes with experience.

Let’s not forget Miles has more triple-doubles (three) than anyone else in Notre Dame history, men or women. She’s the only freshman in college basketball history to have one in the NCAA Tournament. Again — men or women. She was the program’s human highlight reel before Hidalgo came along. And odds are she’ll still be one upon her much anticipated return.

“She’s stronger,” Ivey said. “Her pace is still her pace.”

When Bledsoe went down for the New England Patriots and Brady stepped in at quarterback and led the team to a Super Bowl victory — and five more thereafter — it was all she wrote for Bledsoe. This isn’t all she wrote for Miles. She’s still got two years to win the ultimate prize with Notre Dame — and be one of the leading contributors for the Fighting Irish in the process.

“I’m just so excited for her and I think everyone in women’s basketball [feels that way],” Ivey said. “She’s a generational talent. Being out for so long, the resurgence of her coming back on the court, to me, is what I’m most excited about.”

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